KIERAN McKENNA would be mad to even listen to the whispers about Crystal Palace’s interest in him.
The Eagles are preparing for life without Roy Hodgson, who may or may not survive the last six months of his contract.
Kieran McKenna has led Ipswich to second in the Championship and is being courted by Premier League clubsCredit: Rex
Erik ten Hag suffered humiliation with Manchester United’s 3-0 home defeat by Bournemouth and has a worse league record this season that McKenna (see below)Credit: Rex
McKenna’s name, unsurprisingly, has come up in conversation amongst the Eagles hierarchy as a possible successor.
But his rate of ascent suggests he can fly far higher than Selhurst Park.
How about at Old Trafford, for instance?
For after Saturday’s humiliation at the hands of Bournemouth, Erik ten Hag’s time as Manchester United is running down, unless he alters the negative narrative fast.
Some young managers might be anxious to feather their nest at the first sign of a massive pay hike by taking over a Premier League club.
Surely not McKenna, however, who appears to have wisdom beyond his years despite being, at the age of 37, the second-youngest manager in England’s top four divisions.
What’s more he is bang on course to have Ipswich back in the top flight next season anyway, with them winning 15 of their 20 Championship matches this season.
Promotion would bridge a 22-year gap since the Tractor Boys first got stuck in the mud and by 2019 found themselves in English football’s third tier.
Last season he dragged them out in style, his team scoring 101 goals in the process.
The Prem looks like the next stop although he spent next to nothing in the summer — signing six players, three of them goalkeepers, and adding three more on loan.
Given the miseries of the past couple of decades at Portman Road, what McKenna could achieve by May is something of a minor miracle.
So darned right Palace would be looking at him and they won’t be the only ones either.
The work he has done since being appointed two years ago this week is exemplary.
He was brought in to replace Paul Cook by the US investment group who had taken over from former owner Marcus Evans in April 2021.
They are called Gamechanger 20 Ltd and McKenna is helping them live up to that company title.
His attention to detail and high-tech training methods, his willingness to engage with his players and his honesty and openness with the media have him — unsurprisingly — as one of country’s hottest coaching properties.
McKenna, United through and through, is showing the leadership qualities and tactical acumen that could see the Red Devils break the mould.
After starting out at the Tottenham academy — he had to hang up his boots because of recurring hip problems — he moved to United and in 2017 led the youth team to the Northern Prem title.
Along with Michael Carrick, who he saw off on Saturday with 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough, he was promoted to first-team coach by Jose Mourinho and kept that role under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer then Ralf Rangnick, before Ipswich came calling.
And maybe, in the not too distant future, his phone will be buzzing again from United.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is about make his entrance to run the football side of a club that is losing its identity faster than it is losing games.
And Ten Hag is under growing threat of becoming collateral damage once the Ineos billionaire gets his feet under the table.
The norm at Old Trafford has always been to replace one big-name manager with another since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
McKenna (centre) was a coach at United before getting the Ipswich jobCredit: Getty
That modus operandi is a busted flush — no matter that more than £1BILLION has been spent on United trying to buy their way back to their former title dominance.
Ratcliffe will be tempted to try something different if Ten Hag exits stage left and follows David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Mourinho, Solskjaer and Rangnick out of the Theatre of Dreams.
McKenna, United through and through, is showing the leadership qualities and tactical acumen that could see Ratcliffe break the mould.
He’s is a top Premier League manager waiting to happen and — with respect to Palace — within far grander vistas than Selhurst Park.